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Last year's Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games were an interesting mix of developer Chunsoft's dungeon-crawling designs and Nintendo's inimitable pocket monsters. It was an interesting blend that offered a fun time... for a limited audience. For most Pokemon fans, the game was a bit boring compared to the mainline Pokemon titles. The latest games in the series, Explorers of Darkness and Explorers of Time, are more of the same. While there are some incremental advances, these new games do absolutely nothing to appeal to new players.
Similar to the original, players start off with a personality test that determines what type of Pokemon they will be. After that, the player tries to discover how the hell they became a Pokemon - that's right: the big twist is that you literally are a Pokemon, not a human.
To kill time, earn some money, and help out critters in need, the main character forms a rescue team. Dozens of missions lead to dozens of dungeon crawls. All the dungeons are randomly generated, which adds greatly to the game's replay value. Or would, if the dungeons were less monotonous. Unfortunately, the gameplay gets pretty repetitive - explore dungeon, beat up Pokemon, find object or Pokemon, exit dungeon, lather and repeat.
On the plus side, the game looks and sounds nominally better than its predecessors. There are also hundreds of Pokemon to battle and adventure with. In typical Pokemon fashion, players have to interact with owners of the game's sister title in order to unlock all of the game's features. There's also a WiFi feature that enables players to send out rescue requests, should they die. All told, this game ends up as a much cuter, much brighter, and much dumber version of Shiren the Wanderer, another DS RPG.
The newest Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games are perfect for players that adore Pokemon, love the grinding gameplay of dungeon crawling games, but would prefer a watered down version. If you're not one of the 37 people that meet all three of those criteria, Explorers of Darkness/Time is a rental at best. Pokemon fans are better served by playing more Diamond/Pearl while waiting for the next Pokemon Ranger game. Dungeon crawling aficionados should play Shiren the Wanderer, Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja, Etrian Odyssey, or several other games that offer deeper, better, and more challenging takes on this style of gameplay.
Apr 30, 2008
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